As we get older, many of us experience changes in our abilities that can threaten our independence. Chronic Illness, injury, vision loss, or simply a decline in overall strength and balance can make living alone a challenge. Most seniors prefer to “age in place,” continuing to live in their own homes. If you have mobility problems and live in a home with more than one floor, climbing stairs may be a big safety concern. Innovative assistive technology has made it possible to maneuver around your home and move from one floor to another. A stair lift might be the solution that keeps you in your home.

 How does a stair lift work?

A stair lift includes a motorized chair with a lift mechanism that attaches to and moves up and down a rail on your stairs. You sit on the chair or stand on a lift as you are safely moved up or down the stairs. The stair lift generally operates on electricity but can have a battery back-up in case of power outages. Stair lifts come in a variety of designs, shapes, and sizes to meet an array of needs.  Depending on whether the stairs are straight, curved with landings, or narrow, the stair lift can be customized to address different architectural spaces. Seats should include seatbelts, and modern versions feature motion sensors, call buttons, and braking systems.

Paying for a Stair Lift

Stair lifts can cost thousands of dollars, and many seniors wonder if Medicare will help cover the cost. Medicare’s Part B includes coverage for durable medical equipment (DME), such as wheelchairs, and walkers, but stair lifts are usually not included in these benefits. In some cases, individuals eligible for Medicaid may get assistance paying for a stair lift through Home and Community Based Services. If you have a temporary need for a stair lift, you may be able to rent the equipment. This may be a more cost-effective option for people who plan to move out of their home or are recovering from a temporary injury.